Manny and the Baby
Stylist Best New Fiction of 2024
A Bookseller ‘One to Watch’
‘Manny and the Baby stood out for me from the first few lines. The beautifully balanced prose, the wonderful story, and sumptuous detail are constructed with poetic precision and held my attention right until the very end.’ Jacqueline Crooks, author of Fire Rush
‘An incredibly special writer, thoughtful and energetic, occasionally savage, wise beyond her years, with an eye and an ear for syntax that is masterful … Varaidzo is the future, and Manny and the Baby is a book for the ages.’ Nikesh Shukla
Included in NetGalley’s 2024 Hot List
London, 1936. Two sisters are ready to take the city and the world by storm.
Bath, 2012. Two young Black men are figuring out who they are, and who they want to become.
Manny Powell is forthright, intellectual, and determined to make her mark on the London literary scene. Her younger sister, Rita ‘The Baby’, just wants to dance. Chasing their dreams across smoky Soho jazz clubs, they soon find themselves part of the burgeoning Black ambition movement, and must learn how to navigate it as women. As tensions rise, and fascism and war snap at their heels, Rita finds herself drawn to the mysterious mimic and trumpeter, Ezekiel Brown, from Jamaica, and the trio are faced with choices that will alter their lives forever.
Itai has fled London to his late father’s flat in Bath. Listening to cassette tapes his father made, he realises there is a lot he doesn’t know about the man’s life – who is Rita? Why did his father record her life story? And might she hold the answers to Itai’s questions? Meanwhile, his developing friendship with Josh, a young athlete who moonlights as a dealer to fund his training, is on unsteady ground. As the country prepares for the 2012 Olympics, Josh is under increasing pressure from his bosses to find out just what the hell Itai is really doing in their city.
Manny and the Baby is a character-driven debut novel, full of heart, about what it means to be Black and British, now and in the past.
'Manny and the Baby stood out for me from the first few lines. The beautifully balanced prose, the wonderful story, and sumptuous detail are constructed with poetic precision and held my attention right until the very end.' -- Jacqueline Crooks, author of Fire Rush 'Manny and The Baby doesn't fall into the trap of cliches. It's packed with originality and emotion. Varaidzo builds two worlds like no other in this tale and that's why this book is so brilliant. A modern twist where nostalgia and the present day intertwine beautifully.' -- Iggy London 'Transporting ... an uplifting ode to the power of family and enduring love.' -- Francesca Brown * Stylist * 'Manny and the Baby is not just a book, it is an immersion into the mind of a writer who knows the value and purpose of every paragraph, sentence, and word, the work of a refreshing and unmatched talent. There is a richness to this world and these characters that makes you see them beyond the page, and remember them long after you've finished the book, leaving you desperate to find them all over again.' -- Ore Agbaje-Williams, author of The Three of Us 'An incredibly special writer, thoughtful and energetic, occasionally savage, wise beyond her years, with an eye and an ear for syntax that is masterful ... Varaidzo is the future, and Manny and the Baby is a book for the ages.' -- Nikesh Shukla 'Varaidzo is a spellbinding writer. A literary time traveller. Taking the reader between worlds so effortlessly. Breaking our hearts tenderly and somehow putting it back together again. An incredible debut, I'm already thinking about when I'll read Manny and the Baby again.' -- Kelechi Okafor, author of Edge of Here
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